Customer Reviews for

The Secret Speech

Average Rating 4
( 162 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(68)

4 Star

(56)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Brilliant, thrilling follow up to Child 44

Forget about Sophomore Slump...Tom Rob Smith has executed an amazing sequel to the captivating Child 44. We're able to pick up where we left off and begin a whole new adventure, learning even more about the complex characters who took us on the first ride and moving for...
Forget about Sophomore Slump...Tom Rob Smith has executed an amazing sequel to the captivating Child 44. We're able to pick up where we left off and begin a whole new adventure, learning even more about the complex characters who took us on the first ride and moving forward with them. If it was a whole new world in the first book, it is all over again. The rules have changed, and yet they are almost the same in that they are soul squelchingly impossible to navitage and live within. The writing is tight (perhaps tighter than in Child 44) and the action is fast-paced while the emotion remains deep and well explored.
This is an amazing book that pulls you in from many different angles and never lets you down. I wish I'd had it on vacation -- i lost a lot of sleep during a work week when I couldn't put it down.

posted by 1220999 on April 13, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Misses The Mark Set By CHILD 44

I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accompli...
I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accomplished that while thrilling us with an original,superiorly written serial-killer mystery, the solution of which was compromised at every twist and turn by a repressive, persecuting, communist regime where villains flourished, innocent victims were forgotten and rescuers were stopped. Surely a masterpiece. Smith's second attempt delivers little flavor of Russian history, a villain lacking credibility, and many victims we care nothing about. Every few pages one or more of the many characters find themselves in one contrived predicament after another, escaping from storms, ships, prisoner uprisings at sea, gulag uprisings, tortue, runaway trucks, sewers, apartment windows,balconies, gunpoints, tank attacks, exploding buildings, bridge jumpings, and riots until you as the reader finally make the ultimate escape by reaching the end.

posted by Brewer on June 1, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Brilliant, thrilling follow up to Child 44

    Forget about Sophomore Slump...Tom Rob Smith has executed an amazing sequel to the captivating Child 44. We're able to pick up where we left off and begin a whole new adventure, learning even more about the complex characters who took us on the first ride and moving forward with them. If it was a whole new world in the first book, it is all over again. The rules have changed, and yet they are almost the same in that they are soul squelchingly impossible to navitage and live within. The writing is tight (perhaps tighter than in Child 44) and the action is fast-paced while the emotion remains deep and well explored.
    This is an amazing book that pulls you in from many different angles and never lets you down. I wish I'd had it on vacation -- i lost a lot of sleep during a work week when I couldn't put it down.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Even better than CHILD 44!!

    The SECRET SPEECH is a very different book from the also-brilliant CHILD 44. It is exciting and tragic and disturbing and fun and urgent in completely different ways. The author throws everything out of balance from the very beginning, upsetting the more or less comfortable approval I felt for Leo by the end of CHILD 44. As we learn more about Leo's past, he and his relationship with Raisa become increasingly complex. And the scope is huge. As in CHILD 44, the sociopolitical reality provides context for a suspenseful story about individual people--but it is also the primary moving force behind a bigger story about the struggles of an entire society living under an oppressive regime. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    Awesome Book

    All I can say is that this book is another one of his winning books on the market. Do not pass this book up, read, read, read!!!!!!!! He is one awesome writer.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    4 1/2 Stars -- A Very Strong Follow-Up To Child 44!

    Let me start off by saying that The Secret Speech is not quite as good as Child 44 -- BUT it is a very good historical thriller and definitely well worth reading. Tom Rob Smith's second novel takes places in 1956, post-Stalin Soviet Union. During this time a violent regime is beginning to come apart, resulting in a society where the police are the criminals and the criminals are the innocent. The "firecracker" during this period is when a document based on a secret speech by Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, is distributed throughout the nation. The basic theme of Khrushchev's message is that Stalin was a murderer and a tyrant, and that life in the Soviet Union will improve. The plot of The Secret Speech moves from the streets of Moscow during its political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags an to the heart of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest. Central to the plot is former state security officer, Leo Demidov, the hero of Smith's Child 44. Demidov is now the head of Moscow's homicide department, and while striving to see justice done, his life is in turmoil due to trying to build a life with his wife, Raisa, and their adopted daughters who have yet to forgive him for his role in the death of their parents. On top of this personal turmoil, Demidov and his family are in serious danger from someone with a grudge against him. The Secret Speech is an exciting, visceral, well-written page-turner from beginning to end that paints a vivid picture of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union at its onset. Further, as was also true in Child 44, Smith's character's are richly developed and are one's that this reader felt he got to know well. I should point out that The Secret Speech isn't flawless, although none of these flaws are major. Perhaps, the biggest of these minor flaws is that some of the plot developments are somewhat too coincidental and a bit far-fetched. But this book is fiction, after all, and these minor flaws do help to contribute to the book's excitement. In addition, I should point out that potential readers of The Secret Speech would highly benefit from reading Child 44 first. Enjoy!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2009

    Sequel Truly Enhances the Original

    A sequel that equals, and possibly surpasses, its predecessor? Highly unlikely you may say, but in the case of "The Secret Speech", the follow-up to Tom Rob Smith's thrilling first novel "Child 44", the unlikely is accomplished. Being a child of the '60's fascinated by the Soviet Union of the era I was instantly drawn to "Child 44" when a friend offered her copy. It did not disappoint. The riveting (no other way to describe it) tale grabbed me immediately. The notion that a society could be so perfectly conceived and realized that crime, particularly a serious crime like murder, was unthinkable, is fodder for a terrific tale of intrigue and deception. Compound the story by making the murderer of the vilest nature, a murderer of innocent children, and you have the makings of an explosive, page-turning thriller. Smith handled this potentially lurid novel with style and precision, introducing along the way two complicated, flawed, main characters who have pasts, and presents, that continually prevent us from completely pulling for them. Yet, despite myself, I was able to repeatedly forgive Leo, the former card carrying Bolshevik automaton, for his past transgressions and accept him as a noble, reformed Russian of the "new" order. After successfully solving the methodical and sinister crime mentioned above he is named the commander of the state's first homicide department. It is in this capacity we find him as "Secret Speech" opens. Stalin has died replaced by Nikita Kruschev, a people's leader for a transformed Russia. Leo's newly formed department has its hands full with cases that bear witness to the direness of the Union's predicament. Under the more open regime promised by Kruschev, the masses feel less threatened and fearful. This, while exactly what the reformed Leo longs for, may actually bring about his demise. Someone from his past has a score to settle and will stop at nothing to ensure he not only relive and confess his sins, but suffer as deeply as that of his innocent victims. This novel never stops. The subplots and cast characters (some old, some new) enhance the story and help explain a time of Russian history that is often ignored and poorly illustrated. This was truly a read I could not put down and I will be saddened if there is not at least one more installment to follow. I recommend reading the first of the series "Child 44" before embarking on this novel.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great, Informative read

    After reading Child 44, I was thrilled to know that this author wrote a sequel. This second book is even better than Child 44 in that it gave the reader more information on the complexities of the characters and the eras of post Stalin, early Kruschev. I loved every page of it, and am reading it again, as I find I learn more with every reading. I read Child 44 twice also.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Misses The Mark Set By CHILD 44

    I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accomplished that while thrilling us with an original,superiorly written serial-killer mystery, the solution of which was compromised at every twist and turn by a repressive, persecuting, communist regime where villains flourished, innocent victims were forgotten and rescuers were stopped. Surely a masterpiece. Smith's second attempt delivers little flavor of Russian history, a villain lacking credibility, and many victims we care nothing about. Every few pages one or more of the many characters find themselves in one contrived predicament after another, escaping from storms, ships, prisoner uprisings at sea, gulag uprisings, tortue, runaway trucks, sewers, apartment windows,balconies, gunpoints, tank attacks, exploding buildings, bridge jumpings, and riots until you as the reader finally make the ultimate escape by reaching the end.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A Solid Sequel to Child 44

    Child 44 introduced a fascinating character. Leo Demidov was a member of the Secret Police in the Soviet Union, responsible for the arrest of innocent people who were then tortured, forced into giving false confessions and ultimately exported to the gulags. And yet, midway through that book, he became a character the reader was actively rooting for as he single-handedly tracked down a serial killer the government denied even existed. The second book is just as gripping. Leo's former co-workers are being murdered amid the shocking aftermath of a secret speech denouncing Stalin's tactics. When Leo's adopted daughter is kidnapped, he realizes the person behind the murders is seeking vengeance for the crimes of his past, and he goes to extraordinary lengths to keep his family together. This book is more action-packed than the first, and I was intrigued by the gang culture that's part of the storyline. Raisa continues to be a strong character, and she's forced to make an impossible decision regarding the people she loves. Things I didn't like included Leo's Job-like efforts to continue atoning for his past and the character of Elena who was so determinedly hateful and bitter that I almost didn't want her saved. *** I've heard the author is writing a third book about Leo.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Like a Monte Carlo road race: lightening fast and full of turns

    I had thoroughly enjoyed Child 44. So I couldn't wait for The Secret Speech. The concept of writing a book about crime in a closed society i.e. 1950's Russia, is what made this book so fascinating. We carry over from Child 44 the MGB (early KGB) agent, Leo Demidov, and his wife Raisa and their two foster children, Zoya and Elena. Zoya hates Leo because she believes he is responsbile for the murder of she and Elena's parents. Meanwhile, someone is killing off the MGB member's responsible for years of torture and killings of innocent Russians turned in by their frightened neighbors and family members. At the same time, a speech supposedly written by Kruschev, is delivered to these MGB members as well as commandants of gulags etc. It is a speech denouncing Stalin and all of the cruelty he had inflicted on Russians. Making these MGB members all murderers. Through many twists and turns, sometimes confusing (why would these two particular people be in cahoots with each other). It is very unclear when this thread starts. As with life in the old USSR, you don't know who to turn to or who to trust. Can you trust your wife, your daughter, your priest? By the time we get to the ending, I felt the story had run out of steam. The whole foray into another country did not add much to the meat of the story and added no depth to the characters. At times the story made me wince from the violence. But it is a thrilling ride, that's for sure.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    Great adventure

    Excellent story line with a bit of history and alot about the milieu of Soviet Russia at the end Stalin's life. Mostly an action packed thriller. Hard to put down, and you're drawn into the story line from page one. Highly recommended, as is Cild 44.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Another great book by Tom Rob Smith!

    I did not want to put this book down. The plot is gripping and keeps you guessing from page one. This book doesn't take any time to get started. Almost half way through I thought the book was ready to end and then a new complication came about. The Secret Speech is now one of my all-time favorites. Tom Rob Smith is a great writer and I hope he keeps the good books coming.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Good Read

    For me, The Secret Speech was not quite as good as Child 44. However, it's still a great book! It was fast-paced with a great cast of characters, none of whom are completely innocent and many with their own agenda. I especially liked that we got to know Leo and his "family" better in this book. I was torn between feeling sorry for some of the things that happen to Leo in this book...and yet the author reminds you that in some ways Leo may deserve what he gets for his past actions, especially from the viewpoint of other characters. I definitely recommend this book, along with Child 44. They're well worth the read. I've heard that this book is the second of a trilogy and I certainly hope that's true. I look forward to the next chapter in this tale.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2013

    I was a little skeptical about buying this book. After all Chi

    I was a little skeptical about buying this book. After all Child 44 was his first book, and it was sooo good. Was it possible that he could write another book as good, or was he just a one hit wonder. Let me tell you this book is every bit as good as his first. TMS is a wonderful writer and I'm going to look forward to reading more of his works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2013

    Crimsonstar

    ~Back..~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2013

    Halograce

    Cool

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Another good read

    Each book in the trilogy stands alone, but read them in order if you can; even the ussr ended 20+ years ago, they still feel fresh and relevant

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    Yohl uob,

    Gheyhlyo
    Jbmyo

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Great serious series

    Read before the movie

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Really enjoyed this sequel to Child 44.  While some reviews comp

    Really enjoyed this sequel to Child 44.  While some reviews complain, I think it was necessary to learn of Raisa and Leo's relationship.  Read Agent 6 as well.  Great series!!  

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  • Posted November 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Not realizing that this was a series until after I had started -

    Not realizing that this was a series until after I had started - I almost stopped. So glad that I didn't. There is no need to have read the first book. The Secret Speech is a fast paced race from the first to the last page. Hard to say too much without giving anything away. Leo is an ex-Secret Police officer in soviet Russia, trying to make a living for himself and his family after the death of Stalin. When the new regime issues a blanket denunciation of everything he did things start to get a little bad, quickly followed up with much worse. His past comes back to haunt him and he learns more about himself than he ever could have imagined as he races to keep his family safe and together.

    A fantastic and exciting read. I'll be adding the first book to my wishlist.

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